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Welcome to the Rickey Jacket Sew Along Part 1

Posted by Betsy C on

Hi Everyone! First off, I want to say thanks for the amazing response to the Rickey Jacket. I'm so happy that everyone is so pumped to making a jacket. I know it can be a bit of a daunting task, but it's one of those projects that you can say "Yes, I made this!" Now I'm not going to say it's the easiest project, but if you break it down into parts, it's really not that bad at all. You are basically making two jackets, one external and one internal. Then you sandwich them together and turn right side out. Don't get wrapped up in what you have been told it is and how complex jackets are. Everything can be simple when broken down the right way. 

Tailoring vs tailored. 

 A couple of terms to cover right off the bat-

Tailored has become more of a description for something that fits well and follows the curves of the body. I would consider Rickey to fall into this category.

Tailoring is a whole different process of making jackets where the emphasis is on custom fit and traditional hand-work. Most home sewing patterns are not set up for traditional tailoring processes because true tailoring relies on the fabric first, then fit, then construction accordingly. I like to think of tailoring as building a sculpture; applying layer after layer to achieve the desired silhouette. 

Should you or shouldn't you?

Please do yourself a favor and save traditional tailoring only if you really get into jacket making and want to study the in's and outs. Don't think that you need to source hair canvas and melton undercollars. I've only made one such jacket in my 20 year career and it was a personal project that I painstakingly researched and stitched by hand. I still have it, but I never wear it as I find that my own ready-to-wear techniques have a better appearance and I have become too critical to the beginner errors in my tailored work. Also, tailoring was built around improving the male body and the techniques only take that into consideration. We have boobs which does most lapel pad-stitching by hand, a great disservice. 

If you truly have your heart set on tailoring techniques, don't be a hard-liner. I think the best outcome will be a combination of machine construction and tailoring techniques only when needed. 

I just want to give a shout out for any one interested in a cool read about tailoring. Check out Bespoke by Richard Andersen. It is a must read for tailoring and Saville Row enthusiasts.

The Number One Question you should be asking yourself: Should you make a muslin?


If you checked yes for any of the above, I would absolutely recommend. Make sure it's a similar weight as your fabric of choice. Don't fit it to closely to your body. Keep in mind there will be a lining (no need to muslin the lining, only the outer shell), so there needs to be some breathing room. Also, try it on with the item that you plan to wear underneath to get a sense of the ease.. 

In general, I'm a big fan of making a muslin. The fact of the matter is that I made about 4 jackets before I got this one right to be a good shape for a lot of different fabrics. Here's the thing: It's going to be a good for fit a lot, but not perfect for every--if that makes sense. Even in RTW, we go through maybe 4 fittings to get one garment just right for one fabrication. If the fabric changes then the pattern may need to be altered again.

Another way to think about it: If you are like me and you like to cook/bake, you get really excited about trying out something new and/or exotic. Only rarely does it suit me the first time I make it. Once it all comes together I think "ok, i'll do it a little bit differently the next time and maybe add a little bit of something else. This is how you should approach a muslin- as a test recipe.

I struggle with this because who wants to go through the extra steps? Not anyone really, but I want your time and energy to be well spent. A pattern is a building block, not a kit. As much as I wish I could tell you it will turn out perfectly for you, I cannot guarantee as you control many variables that will affect the outcome: body proportions, fabrications, interfacing, trims, etc...

My advice: Take the time and just do it. Make it a quick and dirty muslin within this time challenge: 20 minutes to cut out only the pieces you need, 30 min to sew the body and a collar on, 20 minutes to make and set in sleeves (yes, please make both sides). Press it nicely, try it on then put it aside and re-look at it the next day with fresh eyes and alter as needed. It will help out the end result tremendously.

Stay tuned for how to choose fabrics for the Rickey Jacket.

Don't forget!: 


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  • Hey Cheri! Hmm, good question. I think they are about the same difficulty level. The shawl collar is straight forward, but it has a slightly different order of construction than the notch collar. But in terms of how it goes together I think it requires a little bit of thinking “outside-the-box”.

    Betsy on
  • Shawl Collar vs. Notch Collar – is one a simpler sew? Just curious. I am liking the clean lines of the shawl collar look . . .

    Cheri on

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